The Head of Government, Mr. Aziz Akhannouch, chaired, on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, in Rabat, the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding and a concession contract between the government and the OCP Group, as part of an emergency plan for the production of potable water through seawater desalination, for the benefit of the water and electricity distribution agencies in Safi and El Jadida.
The memorandum of understanding between the government and OCP was signed on the one hand by the Minister of Economy and Finance, the Minister of Equipment and Water, the Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, and the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Interior, and on the other hand, by the President General Director of the OCP Group.
This memorandum falls within the framework of accelerating the implementation of the National Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation Water 2020-2027, which was presented before the eyes of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, May God Assist Him, especially in the aspect related to the program of mobilization of extraordinary water resources, through the programming of seawater desalination plants.
In February 2022, the government decided to develop a complementary program that includes the development of a strategic partnership with OCP for the long-term and sustainable mobilization of water resources through seawater desalination, in order to cope with the current situation characterized by exceptional drought, to relieve pressure on the Oum Rbia water basin, and to avoid the risk of interruption of drinking water supplies to the residents of the region.
In this regard, a joint seawater desalination project has been launched, as part of an emergency plan aimed at producing potable water to supply the Safi and El Jadida agencies, as well as producing industrial water to meet the needs of OCP. This project, which is part of the Office's "water neutrality" strategy, which stimulates the use of green energy, aims to use exclusively unusual water (treated wastewater and desalinated seawater) in the Office's industrial operations.
This emergency plan will allow, in the first phase, to produce 85 million cubic meters per year during the period from 2023 to 2025, and in the second phase to reach 110 million cubic meters per year starting in 2026.
In terms of drinking water production, the emergency plan in 2023 aims to provide 10 million cubic meters for the Safi Agency and 30 million cubic meters for the New Agency. During 2024 and 2025, the expected production will reach 15 million cubic meters per year for Safi and 32 million cubic meters per year for its counterpart in El Jadida. Starting in 2026, the plan seeks to achieve 30 million cubic meters per year for Safi and 45 million cubic meters per year for the new agency.
On the production of water destined for industrial needs, the emergency plan aims to ensure the mobilization of 35 million cubic meters of treated water annually.
As of 2026, the two agencies will benefit from 75 million cubic meters of desalinated water annually to meet public service needs, and 35 million cubic meters per year for OCP industrial use.
Seawater desalination will be carried out in four units, two of which are located in Jorf Lasfar in El Jadida and two in Safi.
The ceremony was also marked by the signing of a seawater desalination concession contract between the government and the OCP, signed by the Ministry of Equipment and Water and OCP Green Water.
The concession contract grants the right to desalinate seawater, in order to provide potable water at competitive prices, to the independent water and electricity distribution agencies in Safi and El Jadida, as well as treated water destined for OCP for industrial uses. This is in parallel with efforts at the level of technologies, energy, cost of inputs, as well as research and development at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University.
Furthermore, the ceremony was an opportunity for the signing of a contract by the Minister of Equipment and Water, the Minister Delegate to the Minister of Economy and Finance in charge of the budget, and the Secretary-General of the Ministry of the Interior related to the financing mechanisms for this project.
On this occasion, the Head of Government recalled the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, May God Assist Him, to the strategic issue of water, which was the subject of high royal directives in the royal speech, on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the second legislative year of the eleventh legislative term, and during the three working sessions chaired by His Majesty in this regard.
The Head of Government called on all concerned parties to ensure that all necessary conditions are provided for the success of this workshop, which constitutes an important component of the Kingdom's policy to confront water stress, in addition to linking water basins, programming new dams, and increasing the capacity to reuse treated wastewater.
It is worth noting that a strategic committee will oversee the strategic management of the emergency plan, with the assistance of a follow-up committee.